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I had completely naive ideas about what having kids would be like, to be totally honest.
While I worried endlessly about being a good enough mom (well, I still do), I also didn’t really grasp how hard parenthood would be, especially with a husband in law enforcement.
The truth is, when you’re a police wife and become a mom, you have to operate like a single parent most of the time. You’re the one who’s going to run most of the errands, take the kids to appointments, and attend kid’s events. You’re the one who will forego sleep while your husband is on night shifts to comfort kids who’ve had bad dreams, then be around all day doing the mom thing again while he sleeps for another long shift.
It can make the parenting thing so much harder and it can take its toll on your marriage, but like anything, you can do it. Here are a few tips to do so.
How To Cope With The Reality of Motherhood As A Police Wife
Don’t compare yourself to others.
Okay, I know: the girl down the street whose parents take her kids twice a week and whose husband puts them down every other night, then complains about how hard parenting is? She’s going to make you want to bang your head against the wall. I’ve been there, trust me.
While it’s totally normal to feel jealous sometimes, it’s important to remember that no amount of wishing will give you a different life. Spending time thinking that way is a complete waste of mental energy. Whew.
Now that that’s out of the way, I want you to ignore what anyone else is doing. Your life is different. Your kids are different. Your husband is different. YOU are different. And you’re the only one who’s perfectly suited to take care of your family – that’s why you were given them!
So put your head down and focus on doing what’s right for you and your family.
Learn to let things go.
With a LEO husband, you might never be the quintessential Susie Homemaker. Your house might never be clean. Most of your meals might come from a box. You might be a hot mess half the time. That’s okay.
Are your kids alive, fed, and somewhat bathed? You’re good.
Honestly, I’m the worst at this. “Toxic perfectionism” doesn’t begin to cover my issues, but motherhood is doing a good job of hammering it out of me – because I only have so much energy. Eventually, something has to give. Maybe by the time I have a few more I’ll be better at this.
But the point is, the faster you can learn to be okay with being the okayest mom in the world, the happier you’ll be. Don’t worry about being the best mom on the block, because she doesn’t have it all together either.
If you struggle with this, compare your kids’ lives to those of kids in third world countries and I promise your perspective will improve.
Keep to a general schedule.
Regardless of what your husband’s work schedule looks like, keep your schedule fairly consistent. It doesn’t have to be shot-for-shot the same each day, but generally, wake up and eat meals around the same time every day, whether he’s home or not. He can always warm up a plate later if necessary.
That consistency will help you not only get into a better rhythm, but it’ll also help your kids deal with the chaos of your husband’s life more gracefully. If they have things they can depend on day-to-day, they won’t be crazed when other things change.
Kids are so much happier when they can predict what’s going to happen next. There’s so much that’s out of their control, so giving them a sense of stability works wonder to keep tantrums and crankiness at bay (hence protecting your sanity a little more!)
Stay busy (but not too busy)
The worst thing you can do is stay in the house all day long with your kids. Being cooped up and bored is a great way to stimulate imagination in the worst way – in the way that inspires your kids to color on the walls, play in the faucet and get water everywhere, smear toothpaste on the mirror… Just saying.
If you have to be in the house for any length of time (because of weather, sickness, or whatever), look up projects on Pinterest to do with your kids to prevent them from coming up with their own.
If you can get out and about, though, GO! Zoo/aquarium/museum memberships can be an upfront investment, but having a go-to out-of-the-house activity can be a real sanity saver. And if you’re tight on funds, organize play dates whenever possible, especially because it’ll give you a chance to talk to another mom once in a while.
Find your village.
That reminds me, if Mommy doesn’t have a village, Mommy goes crazy. (Oh, by the way, you’ll eventually start talking in third person – totally normal.)
You need other adults to talk to – ones who understand your struggles and can commiserate. Even if they’re not fellow police wives, if you both have kids, you’ll have lots of stuff in common.
One great way to develop your village if you don’t have a lot of friends who are moms is to spend a lot of time at nearby playgrounds. It’s like going to the bar when you’re single, just a lot less skeevy. But there’s a good chance you can find someone to talk to there, and there’s not a lot of pressure to make a connection. If you get along, great! If not, you can keep walking.
But seriously – you need a village.
Figure out discipline that works for you.
Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of 1-2-3 Magic.
When my son first hit the “terrible twos”, I felt like I was losing my mind. I spent all day yelling at him, and it wasn’t getting me anywhere. And nobody was happy. When a friend recommended this, I was super hesitant. I have a hard time willing myself to spend time reading parenting books when my reading list is long as it is, but I’m SO glad I did.
If you’re the same way about reading, get the audiobook or DVD version instead, but honestly, you need this. It makes discipline simple and effective, and it brought peace back to our house.
Also, the creator is hilarious. It’s nice to read a parenting book that isn’t boring 😉 Seriously, do yourself a favor and read it now.
The point is, though, having a disciplinary method that actually works is a total game changer. I spend a lot less time arguing with my kiddo and more time loving on him. It makes everyone happier.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Even though you’ll love your kids more than you ever thought possible, you can’t spend 24/7/365 with them or you’ll lose your mind. You need (and deserve!) your alone time.
If you can finagle alone time through friends/family, do it! If you don’t have any around, don’t feel guilty for hiring a sitter or doing part-time daycare.
It’s not selfish to need time to yourself. It gives you the opportunity to recharge and be an even better mom – so please, don’t feel guilty! Leave the kids with someone else and enjoy an overpriced latte, all by yourself (or better yet – with a friend! With whom you can have a completely uninterrupted conversation! Seriously :))
Parenting isn’t easy, and it’s even harder when your partner has to spend more time fighting crime than defusing tantrums – but you’ve got this. It’s only going to make you and those kids stronger!
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